Despite the fact that my classroom is an inclusion classroom, my students receive a ton of pull out services. Whether I believe in this approach is not important to the post. Some of these kids receive therapies etc. that their providers/parents/special ed. team believe are best provided in a separate setting.
Yesterday, one of my students came up to me and said that she was upset because a boy from her house (cooperative group), "was all up in my business asking where I go when I leave the classroom."
Wow. How do you handle a situation like this? I knew I had a few options. If I've learned anything, it is to give my self a moment to think before responding in a situation like this. Any response would have consequences and I wanted the best possible outcome for this kid.
Obviously, one of the options was to find out which kid was bothering her and reprimand him. The obvious consequence might be that the reprimanded child would get mad that he had been tattled on and this might be the beginning of a stressed relationship between these two students.
I could tell her to ignore the behavior. How often do we give kids this advice? If I did this, the behavior may continue and this child might learn the lesson that her teacher isn't really interested in helping her to solve her problems.
I'm not sure I did the right thing but here is what I did. I asked her why she thought the boy was asking this question. She shrugged. I gave her a couple of options. "Maybe he wants you to feel bad about being out of our room? Maybe he was just trying to be annoying? Maybe he wanted to know where you were because he was curious." I asked her to think for a moment. She did. She said she wasn't sure (and neither was I). I lead her to consider the option that he was curious. She really felt like it was still none of his business (and it really isn't). I gave her a few options. I told her that she could tell him where she goes and that his questioning would likely stop right away. I told her that she could tell him that it isn't his business and ask that he please drop the subject and that this may work. I told her that she could try ignoring him and he may stop. I offered to speak to him for her but I explained the consequence that may bring. I asked her how she wanted me to help. She wasn't sure. I asked her if she wanted to think about it overnight and we chat the next day. She shrugged and said, "sure."
The one piece of information I had was the knowledge that the inquiring boy would begin his own pull-out services next week. This made me wonder if he was wanting to know if his classmate was a kid like him. My guess is that he was hoping to have a kid to relate to.
I pulled this sweet girl aside today to follow up. I asked her how things were going with her classmate. She said they were going fine. I asked what she had decided to do about his questioning. She said that she had decided to let it go.
This was kind of huge for her. At least on paper, this is a student who has historically had a tough time with other kids. She often feels like their target versus their friend. In the past, she was not a "let it go" girl. I'm still not sure I handled it perfectly but I know this kid knows two things; I am going to listen to her when she is upset and when she has a problem and I am going to invite her into the problem solving instead of taking over.
I'll be watching these two students closely. I want to support their social (and academic) success. For the time being, I think we're good.